It’s no secret that the cost of living is forever on the increase. And, with wages stagnating, many parents are struggling to feed their families a healthy, balanced diet. It’s all too easy to invest in fries, pasta and rice and feed these to your family day in, day out. However, if you take the time to prepare your meals in advance, shop at discount stores, and are willing to cook meals from scratch, there is no reason why you cannot feed a large family healthy meals on a budget. In this article, we’re going to provide you with a list of tips to follow that will help you do just that.
Go Back to Basics
The first thing that you want to do is go back to basics. This means no longer buying pre-chopped onion and garlic from the store, or only buying brand name products. It is much cheaper to buy whole vegetables and cut them yourself at home. And, you’ll find that store brands are often not much different in taste to the premium brands you pay up to five times as much for.
To get started, have a look in your pantry and see how many things you could make instead of buy. If you’re regularly spending $20 a week on cakes and cookies, could you make these yourself to save money? What about things like cheese dips, guacamole, and coleslaw? Could you make those yourself? It is incredibly convenient to pick these things up from the store, but this convenience comes with a high price.
You could set aside one day a week where you make a lot of the foods you usually buy pre-packaged. And, better yet, it’s likely your kids will love getting involved in the food preparation too – especially if they’re allowed to taste what they’re making along the way!
Plan Your Meals
One thing that you should never do when grocery shopping is visit the store without a list. When you do this, you will end up adding anything and everything to your trolley, and will return home with a lot of foods that you didn’t need, as well as foods that aren’t suitable for meals. You’ll also probably end up buying a lot of expensive ready meals that you could have made yourself.
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. So, before you head out to the store, write a list of the meals you will cook for your family during the week. Once you have this list, check your pantry and the freezer to see which items you already have. Then, and only then, write a list of the items you need to purchase. Make sure to also include plans for breakfast and lunch, and also a few snack ideas for the kids as well. Once you know what you need, and how much, you can shop around for the best offers.
If, when you are shopping, you do see something on offer that can be made into a meal, don’t feel like you can’t purchase it. It’s wise to be slightly flexible with your list, while not going overboard. Some families choose to plan meals for six nights and then pick up a pizza for the seventh night. This is fine as well if it works within your budget.
Don’t Be Afraid of Frozen Foods
A lot of moms think that in order to feed their kids a healthy diet, they need to spend a lot of money on fresh foods. Not only are fresh foods expensive, but they usually end up getting thrown away before they can be fully used. When shopping on a budget, don’t be afraid of frozen foods. Frozen meat, frozen fish, and frozen veg can all be included in your family’s meal plan, and they’re often much cheaper than their fresh alternatives. Most frozen foods also contain the same nutritional value as their fresh counterparts, and their longer shelf life makes them well worth investing in.
If you do happen to see any in-season, fresh food that is available on a deal, don’t be afraid to buy a lot of it to freeze. Again, most meats, fish, and vegetables can be frozen to be eaten later on.
We know you’re looking for ways to lower your grocery bill, and bulk buying seems expensive, however in the long run it can save you a lot of money. There are a lot of items that your family eats that has a long shelf life. This can include things like rice and pasta, as well as things like potatoes and flour. Instead of buying small packs of these each week, it can be much more cost effective to invest in catering size packs. So long as you store them correctly, these foods should last for months, saving you cash along the way.
Use Bulking Ingredients
A lot of parents think it’s expensive to make homemade meals. Take the standard lasagna, for example. If you’re purely using beef mince in your recipe, you could end up paying as much as $10 just for the mince to feed a family of four. One way to lower the cost of these recipes is to use bulking ingredients. Again, following on from the lasagna example, instead of using $10 of mince in your recipe, cut this down to $3. In order to bulk out the dish, you can add finely chopped vegetables or lentils. Veg like onions and celery will help to add some extra taste to the meal, while lentils can’t be tasted once cooked, however they do help to soak up a lot of the great, juicy flavors. Lentils are also high in protein, making them a top choice for growing kids. They can also be purchased in bulk.
Hopefully this guide has shown you that it is possible to feed a large family on a budget. If you can think of any additional advice, please let us know in the comments.
Dinner top view image by ShutterStock.